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PSU-Illinois highlights, lowlights

September 30, 2012
By Neil Rudel ( , The Altoona Mirror

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Following are the highlights and lowlights from Penn State's 35-7 victory over Illinois on Saturday at Memorial Stadium:

Play of the game: On fourth-and-goal from the PSU 4 with less than 20 seconds left in the first half, Michael Mauti intercepted Nathan Scheelhaase at the goal line and, ala James Harrison in the Super Bowl, raced 99 yards down the sidelines. He was caught by Miles Osei, and, after an official review, ruled down at the 1 with one second left.

Offensive player of the game: Penn State tailback Zach Zwinak rushed for 100 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns - all career highs.

Defensive player of the game: Mauti made two interceptions to go with six tackles.

Most telling statistic: Penn State rushed for 212 yards and passed for 211.

Hidden statistic: Of its first 12 third-down opportunities, Illinois converted once.

Best run: Has to be Mauti's 99-yarder.

Best pass: Matt McGloin hit tight end Matt Lehman with a 21-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, extending the Lions' lead to 21-0.

Worst pass: Several by Scheelhaase, but if you're looking to be more provincial: Leading 14-0 in the first quarter, McGloin threw behind an open Brandon Moseby-Felder on a crossing pattern inside the Illinois 25.

Best catch: Kyle Carter did a nice job to snag a low sideline pass that turned into a 16-yard gain in the third quarter.

Catch it, will ya: lllinois had a couple drops, including one by Ryan Lankford, son of former PSU cornerback Paul Lankford. Nit tailback Bill Belton also dropped a pass.

Hold it, won't ya: Alex Kenney fumbled following a first-half reception, but it went out of bounds.

Best block: Jesse Della Valle did a nice job to get out in front of Evan Lewis' early 26-yard punt return.

Best tackle: On fourth-and-1 from the Penn State 28, leading 14-0 midway through the second quarter, Gerald Hodges and Jordan Hill stopped Scheelhaase, letting out what little air there was in the Illini.

Best hit: Nit safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong drilled Illinois' Donovonn Young in front of the Illinois bench in the second quarter.

Best coverage: PSU linebacker Mike Hull continues to be in good position and broke up a third-down pass to force an early Illinois punt.

Best kick: Illini punter Justin Duvernois uncorked a 57-yarder that spun inside the Lions' 5 and pinned them at their own 1 early in the fourth quarter.

Worst kick: Illinois' Taylor Zalewski pushed a 26-yard field goal attempt wide right late in the first quarter with the Illini down 14-0 and needing a boost.

Worst penalty: Illinois safety Earnest Thomas was ejected for hitting Lehman with a helmet-to-helmet foul in the end zone. Illinois showed its lack of discipline early when V'Angelo Bentley roughed PSU kicker Sam Ficken following a made 24-yard field goal. The penalty gave the Lions a first down at the Illini 3 and turned into Penn State's first touchdown.

Best call: The Illini staff sprung a surprise with a 22-yard touchdown reception on a halfback pass from Josh Ferguson to Spencer Harris that cut PSU's lead to 21-7.

Worst call: Was surprised Bill O'Brien, gambler that he is, tried the 18-yard field goal with a second left in the first half (which was blocked), rather than going for the knockout punch from the Illinois 1.

Best effort: Lion safety Malcolm Willis showed great hustle and dragged down Young after a 52-yard burst to the PSU 11 in the first quarter - a play that led to a missed field goal.

Unsung hero: PSU backup linebacker Mike Yancich is turning into a special teams demon. He was credited with seven tackles, including combining with DaQuan Jones to stop Young from the Lions' 1 on the game's final play.

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